|Publication number||US5142478 A|
|Application number||US 07/711,491|
|Publication date||Aug 25, 1992|
|Filing date||May 28, 1991|
|Priority date||Sep 23, 1988|
|Publication number||07711491, 711491, US 5142478 A, US 5142478A, US-A-5142478, US5142478 A, US5142478A|
|Inventors||Mitchell M. Crook|
|Original Assignee||Crook Mitchell M|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Referenced by (36), Classifications (13), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Technical Field
Aircraft instrument and control systems using digital computer and transmitter/receiver systems operating in the area of 4000 MHz.
2. Description of Prior Art
All modern commercial aircraft are equipped with navigation instruments that give the pilot information to locate the airport add some are certified to descend to the ground. But when landing an aircraft in low visibility conditions most existing systems do not provide sufficiently accurate data to determine if the aircraft can be stopped in the length of runway remaining. The ability to know this, or, if taking off, know that the aircraft can clear an obstacle at the end of the runway would not only add to safety, but would also contribute to increased revenues for the airlines because they would no longer have to cancel flights due to fog, or waste fuel in holding patterns.
A transmitter located at the end of an airport runway transmits a signal that is received by an aircraft approaching for a landing. The amplitude of this signal is converted into digital form and sent to a computer to compute distance and ground speed. Other data is taken from existing aircraft instruments and used with distance and ground speed to make computations that assure a safe takeoff or landing in low visibility conditions. This is accomplished by providing the pilot with a special instrument for takeoff/landing "safeness" and by making the go-around decision should it be necessary. Because of the dependence on the computer to make decisions that can affect life, the computer uses triple redundancy and a polling procedure that dictates that at least two of the three identical computer elements must agree before an action is taken.
The transmitter uses a superhigh frequency (SHF) that is essentially a line of sight transmission in order to achieve the necessary accuracy. Because the absorption of transmitted energy at this frequency is easily predicted, the basic premise of this patent application is that distance can be computed by measuring signal strength of the R.F. carrier (referred herein as "measurable signal"). Self test circuits are provided to assure the stability of the transmitter, and a status code is added to the carrier so that the aircraft knows whether to "trust" the "measurable signal".
Since only one transmitter should be activated at one time, the control tower will select the transmitter associated with the runway in use.
FIG. 1 illustrates the airport runway and transmitter relationships from a horizontal viewpoint.
FIG. 2 illustrates the aircraft runway and transmitter relationships from a vertical viewpoint.
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the runway transmitter.
FIG. 4 is a block diagram of components onboard the aircraft.
The following description describes a system to safely land an aircraft in low visibility conditions such as fog or low clouds. It assumes that normal navigational instruments such as glide slope and marker beacons are utilized to align the aircraft to the runway, and control the descent. The function of the "safeness system" is to continuously monitor the progress of the landing and take appropriate actions if the aircraft is in danger of landing short of the runway, or so long that the aircraft cannot be stopped before the end of the runway is reached.
As shown in figures and 2, the measurable signal transmitter 2 located at the far end of the active runway 1 continuously transmits a constant amplitude signal that is received by a "safeness system" on board a landing aircraft 3. Since the amplitude of the signal decreases with distance from the transmitter, measuring this amplitude will enable slant range distance (d1) to be computed. Because altitude, from the radar altimeter, is being sent to the safeness system, further computations provide the ground distance (d2). Successive computations of ground distance (d2) will yield a profile that predicts the point where the aircraft will touch the runway 4. Since gross weight and braking performance are known, the distance from the end of the runway to the location the aircraft would be when it comes to a complete stop (d3) can be computed. The pilot is continually informed as to the "safeness" of landing by an indicator, 21 of FIG. 4. If enabled by the pilot, the autopilot and automatic braking system can be controlled by the "safeness system" to initiate a go-around or apply the correct amount of braking.
FIG. 3. The transmitter 2 is a key element of the system. It must continuously direct a radio frequency beam of a closely controlled amplitude down the active runway. The radio frequency signal from the driver 6 that is sent to the transmit antenna 5 is frequency modulated 7 with audio frequencies 8 that send information to the aircraft. These audio frequencies identify the signal as being from the "safeness system" and that the amplitude being transmitted is within limits. If the amplitude is outside the limits, the microprocessor 13 will first attempt to bring the amplitude of the transmitted signal back into limits. If it is unsuccessful, information is sent that the received signal should not be relied upon for situation where the pilot cannot visually verify the safeness of the landing. This self testing is accomplished by using a separate antenna 9 to sample the transmitted signal, amplify it 10, detect its amplitude 11, convert this amplitude to digital waveforms 12, and apply the result to a microprocessor 13. The microprocessor continuously compares the amplitude signal to the limits that are stored internally and then outputs an "ok" or "not dependable" code to be frequency modulated onto the transmitted signal.
The frequency of the transmitted signal will be in the area of 4000 MHz.
The "safeness computer" 14 is located onboard the aircraft. It is designed and programmed in such a way that with the information being fed into it, it will continually make the "safeness" decision for the landing. If it determines that the landing is unsafe, it will automatically put the aircraft into the go-around mode for another attempt at a landing if the pilot has enabled this feature. If the landing is safe, this computer will feed braking information to the automatic braking system as to the amount of braking energy required to stop the aircraft. Each aircraft installation will be programmed with a model of the aircraft's braking and other performance capabilities.
The "safeness computer" receives the measurable signal at all three of the receiving antennas 15. After amplification 16, the signal is detected 17 and converted into digital format 18 and sent to the digital computer 20. It is this input that the computer uses to determine distance. The amplified signal 16 is also sent to a circuit to recover the audio frequencies 19 that were added to the transmitted measurable signal. It is these frequencies that the computer will use to accept or reject the measurable signals being valid.
Altitude and gross weight are input from other aircraft instruments and when combined with aircraft performance criteria that is stored in the computers non-volatile memory 25, provides that information that is necessary to compute how quickly that aircraft can be stopped once it is on the runway, and when a go-around must be initiated in the event of an aborted landing.
For low visibility takeoffs, the safeness computer turns off the automatic braking system and activates the thrust management system with the "go-around" signal. As the aircraft progresses along the runway, the distance remaining is constantly compared to the distance it would take the aircraft to stop. If the wheels have not left the ground by the time the two distances are equal, the takeoff is aborted.
The "safeness" of the takeoff or landing is constantly shown by a cockpit panel indicator 21. This indicator has three functions. The first function is the ON/OFF indicator. If the safeness transmitter 2 is not sending the measurable signal or if the microprocessor senses that the signal cannot be relied on, this ON/OFF indicator displays "OFF". The second function is the distance display 22 which shows the ground distance between the aircraft and the end of the runway. The third function is the "safeness" display 23. The display consists of a series of red, yellow and green lights that provide the pilot with a relative indication of whether the landing or takeoff is safe as it relates to the length of the runway.
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|U.S. Classification||701/16, 701/15, 73/178.00T, 244/183|
|International Classification||G01S11/06, G05D1/00, G05D1/06|
|Cooperative Classification||G05D1/0083, G01S11/06, G05D1/0676|
|European Classification||G05D1/00E, G05D1/06B6C, G01S11/06|
|Apr 2, 1996||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Aug 25, 1996||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Nov 5, 1996||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 19960828